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The Thing That Couldn’t Die

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The Thing that Couldn't Die, starring Andra Martin, Carolyn Kearney, William Reynolds, Robin Hughes, Jeffrey Stone
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The Thing that Couldn’t Die (1958), starring Andra Martin, Carolyn Kearney, William Reynolds, Robin Hughes, Jeffrey Stone

In short,  The Thing That Couldn’t Die is a good example of a truly cheesy monster movie. My children and I enjoyed watching it last week on Svengoolie — primarily making fun of it as it was playing.  The acting was wooden, the makeup was mediocre, and it was so totally cheesy that it was completely enjoyable — but probably not in the way that the filmmakers intended.

Buy from Amazon In short, a teenage “psychic” at her aunt’s ranch is using a divining rod to try and find water — and unintentionally finds a box instead. A box full of … evil! One greedy ranch hand tries to get a strong-but-stupid ranch hand to open it — and regrets it, as the box contains a disembodied head.  The head, however, is still alive … and evil! … and wants to be rejoined with its’ body.

The Thing that Couldn't Die, starring Andra Martin, Carolyn Kearney, William Reynolds, Robin Hughes, Jeffrey Stone

Later, courtesy of the teen’s psychic powers, the audience is given a flashback to explain the backstory — hundreds of years before, an evil devil worshipper has sentenced and executed by his shipmates, who decapitated him and buried his head in one spot and his body in another. The head of evil controls one cast member after another, trying to pull himself back together

Will it get ahead? Does every body need some body sometime? Will it finally get a good head on his shoulders? Will Satan finally claim his property?  Watch the movie and find out for yourself.  Just be sure to bring some popcorn and a little bit of snark.

Cast of characters in The Thing That Couldn’t Die

  • Gordon Hawthorne (William Reynolds, The Land Unknown). The archeologist with common sense to not open the box of evil with the ominous warning.
  • Linda Madison (Andra MartinUp Periscope).  Jessica’s cousin, Hank’s girlfriend, who becomes the first person controlled by the box of evil
  • Jessica Burns (Carolyn Kearney) – the teenage “psychic” that finds the box of evil, only to be controlled by it later.
  • Gideon Drew (Robin Hughes, Auntie Mame).  The undying devil worshipper’s head in a box.
  • Hank Huston (Jeffrey StoneThe King’s Musketeers).  Artist, the boyfriend of Linda, who’s treated badly by her once she’s controlled, and becomes controlled himself.
  • Flavia McIntyre (Peggy ConverseThe Accidental Tourist).  The owner of the farm where all of the chaos occurs – Jessica’s aunt.

Editorial review of  The Thing That Couldn’t Die, courtesy of

“If ye valuest thy immortal soul, open not this accursed chest.” So reads the inscription on the 400-year-old metal box found by teen psychic Jessica Burns (Carolyn Kearney) on her Aunt Flavia’s farm. Although archaeologist Gordon Hawthorne (William Reynolds) warns it should remain untouched, two greedy ranch hands break it open, believing there’s treasure inside. What they find instead is the living head of executed devil worshipper Gideon Drew (Robin Hughes), “the foulest and wickedest man to ever set feet upon the earth.” Condemned to a living death until he’s rejoined, Drew hypnotizes Jessica into unearthing his body so he can “spread hell’s flames around the world”. A terrifying tale from the Atomic Age of horror movies, The Thing That Couldn’t Die is a devilish gem that’s a head above the rest.

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